We can hardly claim that the Austin marque is under-represented in the UK’s classic car scene but it’s fair to say that the majority of the Longbridge brand’s survivors are from the smaller end of the market.
As far as larger classics go, it tends to be the more upmarket brands which have been cherished and preserved, meaning many more Mk2 Jaguars for example have survived than Austin Westminsters.
The Westminster tag was reserved for the range-topping Austin models and it first appeared in 1954 when the A90 series was launched to replace the previous big Austin, the A70 Hereford.
Larger than the mid-sized Cambridge cars, the Westminster used six-cylinder power and ran the 2.6-litre BMC C-Series engine rated at 85 bhp which later found its way into the Austin-Healey 100-6 among others.
The A90 was revised in 1956 to become the A95, with the engine uprated to 90 bhp and the restyled bodyshell 11 inches longer on a wheelbase extended by 2 inches.
The A95 would eventually be replaced in 1959 by the new range of Pininfarina-designed saloons which were the direct result of Prince Philip’s harsh comments to Leonard Lord during a Longbridge visit, when he suggested that the dowdy BMC cars werent up to the foreign competition.
This was still the era of ‘export or die’ and a significant proportion of these big Austins went overseas, the bulk of them to Commonwealth countries. This in turn means that the A90 and A95 are both rarities here today, but if you do find one, their commanding presence and stately demeanour plus the straight-six powerplant makes them an appealing choice.